In the fifteen months since we’ve quit our jobs in Chicago to travel and having visited numerous destinations in that time, we have never lost our luggage. I had assumed at some point during our round the world trip, some airline would eventually misplace it. The odds just seemed to be there. Especially considering how convoluted our travel plans can be. Basically, when Auston books our travel routes, they often appear to me as a some sort of concoction of travel ingredients he cooked up in cauldron during the wee hours of the night all in the name of saving a few dollars – a pinch of airline miles here, a dash of budget airline travel there, throw in an overnight bus and a train with various connections then *poof*, a travel itinerary.
Thus, I was always ready for the day our bags would not come down that glorious conveyor belt at the airport baggage claim awaiting my welcoming arms to embrace the best friend that is my backpack. Or perhaps it’d disappear from under the bus while I slept through the stops that weren’t ours or maybe someone would take the wrong bag as they exited the train. But as I just stated, to my surprise and great appreciation we have never had an issue with our bags …until Nice.
Couchsurfing and Sightseeing
We flew in after spending a week sightseeing in Vienna and attending Vienna’s Gay Pride events. We arrived early in the day and had plans to couchsurf with a host for two nights but wouldn’t be able to meet with him until the evening. This was not a problem because would could lock our bags in the lockers at the train station in Nice and spend the day sightseeing. Afterward we found them here and picked up our bags and rendezvous at our hosts apartment later in the day.
Activities consumed the hours as we wandered through the Old Town (Vieille Ville), relaxed at the beach, hiked up Castile Hill for inspiring scenes of Nice, and regenerated with a coffee at La Place Rossetti which is more like an Italian piazza than a French square. We were undoubtedly satiated by the gluttonous touring of the day and ready to grab our backpacks to meet our host for the evening. We returned to the train station at five past eight in the evening as the sun was just setting for the night. As we approached the room where the lockers were located, it was clear that no one was there. The lockers were off to the side of the train station and occupied their own room. To enter, you and your luggage had to go through a security screen which is something we’d not seen at a train station before, but supposed it’s an overly cautious security measure. No matter, we expected to enter once again to retrieve our bags, but the doors were locked and no staff could be found.
Locked Up Luggage
We went over to information but they informed us that the company that ran the lockers was separate from the train station and they could not help us. Basically, we were shit out of luck and were not getting our bags back until the next day. We were surprised that they would even close the lockers as every other European train station we’ve left our bags in for a day did not have the lockers in a separate enclosed area that closed for the night. Auston and I ultimately felt lucky that we weren’t leaving the next day. Our flight out of Nice was fortunately two days later and really early in the morning. If we had booked our trip to Nice as just a day trip and took that exact early flight the next morning, I don’t know what we could’ve done about our bags because our flight would have left before the lockers opened.
Lucky for us, that was not our case so we just shrugged, laughed it off, and swung by a pharmacy to purchase a tooth brush. We could live without our stuff for one day, but bad breath is too heavy a price to pay as far as I’m concerned. When we woke the next morning to grab our things, we stepped right out the front door of our couchsurfing host’s apartment to be immediately greeted by the tram stop. His location could not have been more ideal for public transit. We sat down and awaited the next one to arrive. Then an announcement come on the intercom with a brief statement in French. We ignored it as we didn’t understand. However, our fellow patient tram users did not ignore it. Instead they all dispersed. We looked at each other quizzically. Was this tram going to come? Apparently not. Turns out a public transit strike was going on in Nice that morning and the tram wouldn’t run for what we gathered would be three hours.
Impeded by Transit Strikes
This isn’t ideal, but we hoped to catch a bus instead. Maybe it was just the tram that wasn’t running. But after waiting at a nearby bus stop for 20 minutes, a sweet elderly French woman approached us to inform us – in French – that, well, we have no clue what she said. But from our unlucky situation, it was safe to assume she had said that no bus would come for us. That’s it. We were walking the two kilometers to the train station. At least it wasn’t so far. Of course, no public transit also meant we were walking two kilometers back to our host’s apartment with our leaden backpacks slung over our backs. Exercise we concluded. It’ll just burn off the beers we most certainly deserved after this ordeal.
All in all, our ‘lost luggage’ story could have been much worse. It was just one night and they weren’t actually ‘lost’, just inaccessible. The main lesson we took from this is to always verify if the lockers at the train station have hours before we use them. As for Nice’s public transit, well we were clearly unimpressed, but we can blame the strike for that and hope it was resolved appropriately!